Word of the Day

Thursday, May 17, 2018

paraph

[ par-uhf, puh-raf ]

noun

a flourish made after a signature, as in a document, originally as a precaution against forgery.

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What is the origin of paraph?

A paraph is the flamboyant flourish at the end of a signature to prevent forgery. The most famous and perhaps only paraph familiar to modern Americans is the one at the end of John Hancock’s signature on the Declaration of Independence. Paraph comes from Middle French paraphe or paraffe “abbreviated signature,” which is either a shortening of Late Latin paragraphus “a short horizontal line below the beginning of a line and marking a break in the sense,” or Medieval Latin paraphus “a flourish at the end of a signature.” Paraph entered English in the late 14th century.

how is paraph used?

Between you and me pivotal affinities occlude such petty tics as my constant distinctive signature with its unforgeable paraph

Joseph McElroy, Ancient History: A Paraphrase, 1971
[Frédéric] Chopin signed in a compact and bold hand. His signature exhibits choppy letter construction and is typically finished off with a bold paraph.

Ron Keurajian, Collecting Historical Autographs, 2017
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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

bezonian

[ bih-zoh-nee-uhn ]

noun

Archaic. an indigent rascal; scoundrel.

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What is the origin of bezonian?

The root of the archaic English noun bezonian is the Italian noun bisogno “need, lack,” also in the late 16th century, “raw, needy recruit (newly landed in Italy from Spain).” In English bezonian has always had this meaning, but also, by an easy extension, ”poor beggar, indigent rascal.” Bezonian entered English in the late 16th century.

how is bezonian used?

Great men oft die by vile bezonians

William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2, 1623

To Juan, who was nearest him, address’d / His thanks, and hopes to take the city soon / Not reckoning him to be a “base Bezonian” / (As Pistol calls it) but a young Livonian.

Lord Byron, Don Juan, 1819–24
Tuesday, May 15, 2018

tempus fugit

[ tem-poos foo-git ]

Latin. time flies.

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What is the origin of tempus fugit?

One cannot get more classical than tempus fugit “time flies,” a phrase that occurs in the Georgics, a poem about farming and country life published around 29 b.c. by the Roman poet Vergil (70-19 b.c.). Tempus fugit entered English in the late 18th century.

how is tempus fugit used?

Well, tempus fugit; let us be going. We have just an hour to reach our dining-hall.

Ruth McEnery Stuart, "Two Gentlemen of Leisure," Moriah's Mourning, 1898

“Thank you! Thank you!” you call to the woman, “but tempus fugit and to be honest, it’s fugiting rather quickly for me at the moment …”

Herbie Brennan, RomanQuest, 2011
Monday, May 14, 2018

lollapalooza

[ lol-uh-puh-loo-zuh ]

noun

Slang. an extraordinary or unusual thing, person, or event; an exceptional example or instance.

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What is the origin of lollapalooza?

Lollapalooza is an American word of unknown but fanciful origin, used by comic writers and humorists such as S.J. Perelman (1904-79) and P.G. Wodehouse (1881-1975). Lollapalooza entered English in the early 20th century.

how is lollapalooza used?

Miss Jeynes, that dance was a real lollapalooza.

Suzanne North, Flying Time, 2014

There will be a storm this evening, bet on it. It will be a lollapalooza.

Roger Rosenblatt, Lapham Rising, 2006
Sunday, May 13, 2018

minnie

[ min-ee ]

noun

Scot. and North England Informal. mother; mom.

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What is the origin of minnie?

The noun minnie is probably baby talk for northern English and Scottish mither “mother” or for mummy (mommy). Minnie is used in northern England and Scotland to mean “(one’s) mother.” Minnie entered English in the 17th century.

how is minnie used?

Whare are you gaun, my bonnie lass, Whare are you gaun, my hinnie? She answered me right saucilie, “An errand for my minnie.”

Robert Burns, "A Waukrife Minnie," 1789

… come and wake my minnie to me, for I canna …

S. R. Crockett, Deep Moat Grange, 1908
Saturday, May 12, 2018

truthiness

[ troo-thee-nis ]

noun

the quality of seeming to be true according to one's intuition, opinion, or perception without regard to logic, factual evidence, or the like: the growing trend of truthiness as opposed to truth.

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What is the origin of truthiness?

Truthiness in the 19th century meant “truthfulness, veracity”; this sense is rare nowadays. Its current sense, “the quality of seeming to be true according to one’s opinion without regard to fact,” was invented by the comedian Stephen Colbert in 2005.

how is truthiness used?

Truthiness is “truth that comes from the gut, not books,” Colbert said in 2005.

Katy Waldman, "The Science of Truthiness," Slate, September 3, 2014

A Rovian political strategy by definition means all slime, all the time. But the more crucial Rove game plan is to envelop the entire presidential race in a thick fog of truthiness.

Frank Rich, "Truthiness Stages a Comeback," New York Times, September 20, 2008
Friday, May 11, 2018

cordillera

[ kawr-dl-yair-uh, -air-uh, kawr-dil-er-uh ]

noun

a chain of mountains, usually the principal mountain system or mountain axis of a large landmass.

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What is the origin of cordillera?

The English noun cordillera is a borrowing of Spanish cordillera “chain or ridge of mountains.” The Spanish noun is a diminutive of cuerda “rope, string,” from Latin chorda “chord, cord, intestine (as food)” itself a borrowing of Greek chordḗ “guts, sausage, string (of rope or of a lyre).” Cordillera originally applied to the Andes Mountains and later to the same mountain chain in Central America and Mexico. Cordillera entered English in the early 18th century.

how is cordillera used?

In the Western Hemisphere, the term Cordillera was first applied to the Cordillera de los Andes or Andes Mountains, which form a compact and continuous bundle of ranges along the western side of South America.

Philip Burke King, Evolution of North America, 1959

The dawn breaks high behind the towering and serrated wall of the Cordillera, a clear-cut vision of dark peaks rearing their steep slopes on a lofty pedestal of forest rising from the very edge of the shore.

Joseph Conrad, Nostromo, 1904

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